Defeating Windies ‘A’ in 5th T20, Nepal heads for World Cup on a high note


Kathmandu, May 5: It was a moment of joy when Nepal defeated West Indies ‘A’ in the visitor’s first-ever match in the Himalayan country. However, Nepal lost the following three matches and West Indies ‘A’ won the five-match T20 series with one match in hand.

Yet, despite losing the series, Nepal wanted to win the final match and, as skipper Rohit Kumar Paudel said during the toss, head for the T20 World Cup on a ‘high note’. 

Nepal lost the toss for the fourth consecutive time in the series and was asked to bat first by the West Indies skipper Roston Chase. The chase has been successful only once, in the series opener, as the batting lineup failed in the remaining matches. 

However, Nepali fans witnessed quality bowling and batting of Nepal’s World Cup-playing players at TU International Cricket Ground as Nepal, after restricting the power-hitting West Indian team to 172 runs, chased 173 runs with seven balls remaining and won the match by six wickets.

Pace and spin combination

Nepal’s skipper entered the crease in the 5th T20 with a Playing XI of members from the T20 World Cup-playing squad. Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi, Karan KC, Gulshan Kumar Jha and Kamal Singh Airee were the four of the 15-member World Cup squad rested in the final match.

Meanwhile, the selected players, motivated to represent the country in T20 cricket’s biggest stage, gave their all to defeat two-time world champions West Indies’ A team for the second time and end the series 3-2.

Skipper Paudel used three pacers and three spinners against West Indies. Sompal Kami was the best bowler for Nepal on Saturday as he took three wickets and gave only 16 runs in his four-over spell. Abinash Bohara took only one wicket but of the dangerous Chase (33 off 23). 

Similarly, Sagar Dhakal, with his spin, sent the top three batsmen – Johnson Charles (24 off 20), Kadeem Alleyne (11 off 6) and Mark Deyal (11 off 19) – of West Indies back to the pavilion. After the third wicket fell for West Indies in the 8th over, Nepal gained momentum.

Opening the first four matches for the Caribbean side, Alick Athanaze entered at five in the final match and played a decent inning to take the visitors to a decent total. Athanaze, staying not out, scored 42 off 29 deliveries. Matthew Forde also added 23 off 12 as West Indies added 172 runs on the board in the loss of seven wickets by the end of 20 overs.

Nepali batsmen in form?

After a series of ducks in Oman, Opener Kushal Bhurtel could also not perform well on the home turf. He scored in double figures only once in three of the four T20s he played against West Indies A as he was rested in the 3rd T20.

Bhurtel started in form in the 5th T20 as he hit two consecutive fours in the first over and reached the double figures with another four in the third ball of the second over. However, Bhurtel (13 off 9) was caught out in the fourth ball of the second over. 

After the first, it was suspected that the other wickets of Nepal would start falling consecutively as in the earlier matches since none of the batsmen, except skipper Paudel, were performing well.  

Meanwhile, Nepal did not need Paudel in the final match, all thanks to Aasif Sheikh and Anil Kumar Sah. Aasif rocketed after facing 25 deliveries alongside a supportive inning from Anil on the other end. 

Aasif and Anil partnered for almost 100 runs for the second wicket and took Nepal to 109 runs in 13.3 overs from 13/1 in 1.4 overs. Aasif and Anil registered individual half-centuries before departing in the 14th and 17th overs as the second and third wickets respectively.

Aasif, with five sixes and two fours, added 51 off 35 and Anil, with four sixes and four fours, added 58 off 45. The duo took Nepal close enough to the target, and in-at-four Kushal 

Malla did the rest.

Dipendra Singh Airee joined Malla after Anil’s wicket, but he departed for a paltry. Skipper Paudel then came to partner with Malla, but he did not need to face any ball as Malla, with five consecutive boundaries (22 runs), in the 19th over, chased the target successfully. Malla scored 37 off 18 balls.

Nevertheless, Paudel was the highest scorer of the series with 265 runs in four innings. 

West Indies ‘A’ used seven bowlers and only two took wickets. Obed McCoy bagged three wickets while Matthew Forde took one. McCoy was the series’ leading wicket-taker with eight wickets in five matches. 

Nepal, who is in Group D with South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands, on June 4, will face the Dutch side in its first group match in the USA and travel to the West Indies for the remaining three group matches. The squad left for the USA for World Cup preparation on Saturday night.

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